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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An amazing and thought provoking movie.
This film is absolutely amazing. It is one of the few movies I watch more than once or twice.
It is an achievment in style. The film manages to look amazing by virtue of Bergman's skill with lighting and cinematography alone. Especially compared to the big budget, color Hollywood titles of the time (such as The Ten Commandments) which look plastic despite their...
Published on July 10 2004 by M. Mitchell

versus
2.0 out of 5 stars Not really for grown ups
Time is not kind to this work. It is probably best enjoyed during your college years, when sophomoric profundity is most potent. Later, as an adult, you will watch this movie with smiles and with laughter. Affectionate amusement, to be sure, but the movie will disappoint. It starts with a couple of actors playing a fourteenth-century knight and his squire, asleep upon...
Published on Jan. 6 2004 by vincegerman


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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An amazing and thought provoking movie., July 10 2004
By 
M. Mitchell (Texas) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This film is absolutely amazing. It is one of the few movies I watch more than once or twice.
It is an achievment in style. The film manages to look amazing by virtue of Bergman's skill with lighting and cinematography alone. Especially compared to the big budget, color Hollywood titles of the time (such as The Ten Commandments) which look plastic despite their "special effects" and use of color (this film is black & white).
The subject of the movie is man's search for the meaning of life and the question of whether or not God exists. The film is both thought-provoking and blunt in its presentation of this subject and the answers which Bergman provides are suprisingly blunt.
The DVD quality is great, as it always is with Criterion Collection DVDs, and Peter Cowie's commentary is particularly good.
However, I will admit that this film is not for everyone. It also seems to require (for me anyway) one to be in a certain "mood" to view it. If you want to simply be entertained then this is not a film for you, but if you want to view a skillfully directed and wonderfully thought-provoking (if a bit dated) film then go for it.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The silence of God!, July 6 2004
By 
Hiram Gomez Pardo (Valencia, Venezuela) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Ingmar Berman(1918) established a challenging premise a chess mate between a knight from the Crusaders and the Death (Bengt Ekrot). If he wins, he'll live ; otherwise the Death will claim him . And this original duel happens after Sydow has left behind the misery, the plague and an unending war. He's deeply dissapointed with God and certainly he concludes that it doesn't exist.
This game will let exchange , scrutinize several ideas concerned with the faith , the silence of God and its own existence. God is a comfortable idea for the mankind ; it keeps them warmth , besides the man can dream with the hope of a celestial Paradise after this journey through this awful and miserable world. The ending sequence with the Dance of the Death is one of the most captivating and fascinating images in all the cinema story.
Many people state this is the Masterpiece : and obviously to me it's one of the three major achievements ; Persona and Cries and Whispers would be the rest .
But I've watched almost forty films of this brilliant swedish film maker and in his particular case ; a minor film from Bergman is above the average . So my advise is try to find out and watch all you can from this outstanding director.
This film won the Special Jury Prize 1957.
A timeless cult movie.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars When in doubt, play chess with Death..., May 6 2004
The film was produced in a world recovering from the devastation of WWII, and living in fear of the mushrom cloud.
A knight and his squire are returning home from the crusades. Disgusted and desillusionised by what he has experienced, the knight just longs to die. He has just one last wish: to find out why he has lived. Death does not care, but agrees to let him live for as long as they continue their chess game.
They travel through a land ravaged by plague, fear, and banditry. Helpless the knight sees the world falling apart around him. Everything he believed in as a young man has been tainted or proved false.
Death cheats in the chess game. In the end the knight loses, but he gains some solace when he saves a young family from Death. Still, he leaves this world as unknowing as he entered as a child.
This film has a tremendous impact on the mind. It deals with the big questions: Why am I here? Why does evil exist, and why is it so powerful? What can one human do to affect the world? The last question is the only one that is answered: small things, but small things are also important.
The acting is briljant, with Max von Sydow as the knight. The personification of Death has inspired writers as different as Woody Allen and Terry Pratchett.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Profound, Memorable, & Challenging, Jan. 21 2004
By 
THIS REVIEW CONTAINS NO SPOILERS-
For those who've never seen this film: It's always best to see a film yourself before investing in its purchase, and that may go doubly so for this picture. The Seventh Seal is one of those "deep" foreign films which explores metaphysical concepts in a sometimes heavy-handed manner. However, the style will more likely reflect the sincerity of the director towards the material, rather than ignorance or immaturity- this is accomplished through consistency. There is bleakness, with humor oozing out of every pore. A black comedy, this is a film for those who can tolerate some high-falootin' ideas and speech with their entertainment. Perhaps you're so smart and mature that you'll already know and understand most of the questions posed by Bergman- but it's still never been done quite like this. Though it isn't everyone's cup of tea, it has earned it's right to at least a try by those who love film and certainly by those interested in foreign film.
For those who have seen this film: The DVD itself isn't the best one could imagine- there aren't any extra scenes, behind-the-scenes, director's commentary, whatever. However, it IS the best available and, if you care to wait another decade for a better version- well, the consumer knows best and we all have spending priorities to contend with. The commentary that comes with the disc is really bad, as some other reviewers noted- he really does speak the brutally obvious, but it can be kinda a fun for a one-time thing. The English dubbed version does indeed, as another reviewer commented, make the film appear more like some sort of western (or even samauri) movie. I kinda liked it. The film speaks for itself, so you already know whether or not you like it and wish to add it to your collection.
Finally, I'd like to comment on about how some reviews have been poo-pooing this movie for various reasons. Some folks seem to be judging the ideas in this movie poorly because, apparantly, it didn't totally change their lives or something. What did you expect? That Bergman had figured out the meaning of everything and this film is supposed to have the answer? It's simply another way of looking at things. Just because you think you know it all doesn't mean that other people are necessarily as "culturally sophisticated" as you, and haven't received an endless well of imagination and inspiration from this work. That is what this piece of film art has accomplished for countless people, and that is why it deserves 5 stars- even at the expense of other wonderful films.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking, suprising in its bluntness, March 7 2004
By 
I approached this movie with few preconceived notions; I had heard of it but knew little in the way of reviews. I started it at 2 a.m. and it managed to hold my attention and keep me interested for the length of the film. It begins with Death approaching a knight (Max von Sydow) on his way home after 10 years warring in the distant Crusades. He strikes a bargain with Death, offering a game of chess. If the knight wins, he lives, loses and he dies. The movie is basically a vehicle for director Bergman's musings on the existence of God, wondering if there is only a great emptiness. Bergman does not mince around the philosophical points; he takes it straight to the viewer with frank dialogue. I was surprised by this boldness; I guess I am too used to the timid, politically correct inanities of current filmmakers. My favorite scene takes place in the confessional of a church the knight and his squire (played by Gunnar Bjornstrand who does a great job) stumble across. The knight wonders aloud to the priest on the emptiness of his faith and his wish to be rid of God. He states that God is simply a construct of man, who craves a way to deal with his fear of the void. The priest turns out to be Death, who has been stalking the Knight on his travels. This movie is not as morose as its plot suggests, there are plenty of scenes where laughter is the response. I think the movie has weathered time pretty well, even with its sometimes cheap looking costumes and set pieces (the walls of the knight's castle move in the wind and are clearly canvas). It was refreshing to watch a movie that actually had a deeper meaning other than being pretext for fart jokes or gratuitous violence. Incidentally, I was not surprised to see that those who panned this movie recommended "Go", "Last Action Hero" and "Raw Deal" instead...all pillars of modern cinematic excellence.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Not really for grown ups, Jan. 6 2004
Time is not kind to this work. It is probably best enjoyed during your college years, when sophomoric profundity is most potent. Later, as an adult, you will watch this movie with smiles and with laughter. Affectionate amusement, to be sure, but the movie will disappoint. It starts with a couple of actors playing a fourteenth-century knight and his squire, asleep upon rocks on a beach. That's right: they are sleeping on rocks. The men appear uncomfortable, not surprisingly, and they do not seem to be asleep. In fact, they appear to be precisely what they are: a couple of actors, dressed in cheap costumes, pretending to be asleep. Unfortunately, this is only the first of many amateurish scenes. The acting throughout "The Seventh Seal" is at about the standard of a high-school play. There's even a juggler who cannot juggle. The editing is clunky. Bergman cannot direct action. The movie is alternately tedious and unintentionally funny. It is frequently campy and it is consistently cheesy. The script lacks plausibility and, oh, the striving for deep thoughts. Enjoy this film but, please, be honest: you are watching it through loyalty towards something you thought was wonderful when you were young. Yes, profundity can sometimes be found in an old black-and-white subtitled European movie. It will not be found in this one. Even Bergman, after a couple of beers, might admit that this early work should be ranked amongst his juvenilia.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Full Of Imagery, Dec 9 2003
By 
L. J Nary (Indio, CA United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Seventh Seal (VHS Tape)
This film doesn't really answer a question but seems to search for answers. It seems to be asking about life, life after death, the meaning of life, and I am sure more. It seems very thoughtful in the way it was directed. It ponders as if it were a thought. Other times it seems light and sweet as with the couple Joesph and Mary. Another interesting image appears with these 2 people, who of course are married. It doesn't really seem to end with a conclusion but in fact more imagery, which feels unique and special. It doesn't really seem like a movie that you would see now at the theater, its like it is using the actors to act out thoughts or different parts of a thought. It is strange and eerie. There are dark spots, such as with the plague and death. There are some funny parts, from the actors mainly and Job, who is the squire, seems kinda of happy go lucky. All in all an experience, plan to think or just get caught in all the imagery without thinking, I guess either way it works!
Lisa Nary
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great, Oct. 19 2003
Aside from being a profound meditation on mans place in the universe and all that, this movie is some kind of funny. No other movie has ever made such a macabre subject seem more hillarious. The scene where the troupe-director fakes his own suicide, only to climb up a tree which death soon cuts down, and others, have a sort of irony which you would be hard-pressed to find in literature, let alone movies. One of the sayings in my life that i've recited over and over again I got from The Seventh Seal: Whichever way you turn, your ass will always be behind you. The cinematography is truly lyrical, especially the opening scenes. At the end I felt a little jibbed because having seen Woody Allens parody of the Dance of Death I didn't get all the emotional power that scene had to offer. But it affected me nonetheless.
You must appreciate Bergman's courage for undertaking this project. How many other directors would have the temerity to do make a movie about the futility of life so directly and so unreservedly? Of course, if anyone else tried it it probably would have turned out indulgent and juvenille.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The horror of the human condition, Sept. 9 2003
By 
greatbong "greatbong" (Stony Brook, NY United States) - See all my reviews
...
Firstly the theme. An engaging period story set in the plague-ridden Dark Ages, the story operates at many different levels...the story by itself is engaging but it's wider significance and universal appeal lies in its allegorical nature. And you don't need to be a student of movies to understand the metaphor of the movie..the point is gotten across clearly and without the subterfuge that art movie directors frequently resort to. Secondly the images. Images of sheer horror are woven all through the movie: the black birds hovering in the sky, the self-flaggelating sinners, Death with the pale face and black shroud, the girl touched by the devil, and the dance of Death.....this horror is "real" and not contrived through special effects or through cliched horror set-pieces !
And transcending the imagery is the apocalyptic horror of the movie's message:" the most terrifying thing is not death but the fact that in the end there may be no God....or that even if God exists He does not care to reveal himself." There are multiple meanings of course..one can also extract some life-affirming symbolisms too and there lies the amporphous nature of the movie--no doubt one of it's greatest strengths. And lastly the polished performances( a little theatrical sometimes but suits in fine with the general "unreal" timbre of the movie) and the crisp evocative dialogue make this movie a must-see.
Not a feel-good movie-- for that please watch "My big fat Greek wedding" or anything else playing at your local Loews theatre. If on the other hand, you want movies to make you feel, think and debate then you have just found the right film !
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5.0 out of 5 stars One of a Kind Masterpiece, July 24 2003
By 
Westley (Stuck in my head) - See all my reviews
Ingmar Bergman's THE SEVENTH SEAL is widely acknowledged as one of the greatest films ever made, which may scare away some viewers. The film is also a meditation on death and religion, which may also make some people hesitant to watch it. I know I avoided it for some time, but the film is really pretty enjoyable. If you consider yourself to be a true film buff, you really have to see this movie.
Max von Sydow, in the role that made him famous, stars as a disillusioned knight returning from the crusades in the 14th century. He is travelling with his squire, and they meet a number of people along the way, including an acting troop and a blacksmith and his wife. One of these visitors is Death, and the Knight tries to bargain for his life. Death accepts the knight's offer of a game of chess. As long as the game continues, the knight can live.
The movie is laden with symbolism, often of a religious nature, and filmed in stark black and white. Although the movie is serious and cerebral in tone, there is also a surprising element of humor and lightness. If you approach this film with an open mind, you will probably end up enjoying it, although it isn't for all audiences. Highly recommended for discerning film fans.
EXTRAS: The DVD includes such extras as the original trailer and a written narrative of Bergman's career. The best feature is the audiotrack recorded by film historian, Peter Cowie. He walks the viewer through the film, pointing out relevant symbolism as well as Bergman's directorial touches. Fascinating!
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The Seventh Seal (Criterion Collection)  [Blu-ray]
The Seventh Seal (Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray] by Marie Nyreröd (Blu-ray - 2009)
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